In episode #9, Tarek Slimani and Rishabh talk about how he achieves customer success and some insider tips on beating poor product usage.
I spoke to many SaaS founders and Customer Success leaders and they are suffering from poor product usage, their trial users are not converting into paid customers. Have you experienced the same before?
Yeah, of course, I think every customer success manager or leader out there has experienced some issues with adoption and poor product usage.
I don’t think there’s any platform out there that’s so perfect that anyone will adopt it easily and have amazing product usage. So this is definitely a recurring theme that we’re seeing over again.
If it’s such a universal problem then what can be done to solve this problem?
It’s very difficult to point out what you can do to specifically solve this issue. It very much depends on the product that you’re trying to sell as well the service that you’re delivering and so on.
But there’s a bunch of things you can do and one of the things you definitely can do is try to analyse your journey through onboarding to adoption and figuring out what are some of the recurring usage themes that the customers have and then figure out what you can do to educate these customers in learning more about the features.
Another thing that I think is extremely important is identifying when they’re in need of these specific features.
So going deeper and utilising the data based on segmentation for the customer and figuring out that now they’ve reached this point in their journey so based on the specific data they’ll highly benefit from this specific feature and then present some content. In-App guidance that could help them achieve some value and adoption.
The journey for different segments of users is different and the way you onboard a master is different than somebody who’s new to your product, isn’t it?
Yeah, definitely. But it also comes down to what product you have, so in our case, some clients are way more technical and need a lot of attention. In that sense to achieve value from some very specific feature, we all have way more simple use cases.
We do it through segmentation, identifying what are the repetitive needs and values based on this specific segment of customers and then based on the journey, we look into okay the use case or the segmentation, what feature would they need and what specific time.
So we look into the data and then say based on the repetitiveness of other use cases that are similar, we can identify that they need this specific feature at this specific time. So through the journey, we can identify and plan when to feed that content which can help them actually achieve that value.
So if they need to achieve something specific in approximately 30 days, it would be relevant for us to feed them some content that is relevant for their needs.
Do you create internal pieces of content for 1-1 onboarding, something out of the box?
There are multiple ways to do it, we started quite simply because we were not experts and at some point, we just tried different things. One thing we tried to start with was webinars. Curated content through video with new customers. This didn’t really work out well for us because that was too broad and was not fit for them at the right times.
Not a lot of people actually signed up for this. So we tried to continue a little bit more in terms of content on email. In an email we can decide based on the data points that I mentioned before, we can say on this specific time based on your usage, we need to serve you this specific content. And in those emails, I would recommend keeping it super simple, short based on one specific value you want them to realise.
So it doesn’t become too complex to read the email and some of the things that you can do to achieve that is including a GIF in the email. A very simple email with a GIF to show the customers how to interact with your product is amazing. Another thing you could do is embed video material in these kinds of emails and make sure to serve at the right time.
I think if I personally could have taken a step further, I would try to do in-depth tutorials or in-app flows that will present themselves at the right times, so you have the marketing based on your product saying.
One of our clients who does 1-1 training and one to many training. We had a lot of documentation in place but nobody wanted to read that, so we converted documentation into videos.
Creating content to educate the customers plays a very good role. A lot of people believe in high touch but if you make more basics, low touch then maybe a specific use case is iterated and could benefit the customer?
Yeah 100%. I think it comes down to the kind of product to customers and service that you have, we wanted to make it as scalable as possible. I think the key to scale is making sure that the interactions that you have with the clients are still humane and high touch but you also have supportive content in regards to tutorials, these email flows or if it’s webinars where you can take the broader scale of customers and make sure that they have good adoption to the product.
It’s all about what your needs are but the most important thing to keep in mind is having the focus and timing based on the desired value. The timing that the clients would meet this to be served and it’s where you need to focus.
When you focus on that, create some good content and serve it at the right time, that’s when you can trigger a proper adoption with the clients. One thing that is key in regards to this high touch approach is to make sure to follow up if there’s still the warning signs of low product usage and adoption.
What would be your top three advice for companies who are small to medium SaaS in order to reduce customer churn?
I think it’s important to understand and realise that someone has to own it and with customer success, we have a lot of empathy. We have a great perspective in understanding how to serve it the right way.
I think it actually comes down to serving it in the right ways. Churn is an outcome of many things and what a good CSM can do is mediate expectations with both the company and the clients to ensure a smooth journey where they continue to achieve continuously. But it’s the overall company responsibility to make sure that the churn is low.
One thing I would say is, As a high impact on churn is onboarding and the first initial value with the customers. We focused on having a proper support practice which sounds ridiculous because you don’t want to be reactive but proactive.
In order to be proactive, you need to start with being reactive so establishing a proper support practice where you can be as productive as possible includes creating content like videos for the users and then make sure to have a proper high touch onboarding. Identify where you have the repetitiveness to scale these activities to include adoption later on.
One of the most important things is feedback and how you utilise that feedback in the process with the whole company because the most important thing to reduce churn is to understand the client’s needs. The best way to do that is by talking to them.
We have interactions through onboarding, support and through adoption and retention. Therefore the feedback that we get helps in understanding the client’s needs which is extremely important. The way that is served to the product teams is going to be the deciding factor in my humble opinion.
How good retention will be with the company level because in order for you to achieve high returns you need to have a good product that the customers can achieve value from. So, most often I see the reasons for why they don’t achieve value or end up leaving the companies is because there’s typically always something that they’re not able to achieve later on if their initial value was achieved and they had some different decided value that they needed to achieve later on.
And it’s really important for the customer success managers to know how to take that feedback and then present it to the product team. This is a broad topic so I’m quite passionate about that and also because I had to learn the hard way. You cannot always just note down feedback and serve it and then someone will listen to you.
One thing I think is key for customer success managers is that they should realise early on, how do you present this feedback, how do you present your ideas in a way that no one can ignore you. It comes down to understanding how to communicate the outcomes of financial value.
So if we implement or now we’ve heard this piece of feedback and feature requests a bunch of times, if we don’t implement it, then it will potentially cause an increase in churn and this increase in churn will cause our growth numbers to be lower. And if our growth numbers will be lower, we will have a bad quarter which will reflect poorly upon our funding round.
So if you can communicate the financial or the numbers based on the impact that the feedback has then I think someone will listen to you because whenever you compare product feedback from a customer success standpoint in sales standpoint, it’s always the sales because they can show the dollars that the product or the companies tend to focus on instead of focusing on what is a good customer experience.
How can a good customer experience reflect positively or negatively on the numbers so that someone will actually listen and include this piece of feedback to help you increase retention rates and reduce churn in the long run?